While “Cowboy Christmas” is wrapping up in the rodeo world, the summer run is heating up in the livestock show world, starting with the Arizona Livestock Camp. With county fair season right around the corner, the showmen are putting in countless hours, traveling hundreds of miles to shows leading up to their county fair. All of this to make sure their animals and themselves are ready for the difficult competition they will face, the grueling long days, and the hard goodbyes that are to come. But most importantly, the reward that all their hard work pays off in the end.
One of the most sought after livestock show and camp of the summer is kicking off this week in Holbrook, Arizona. The Arizona Livestock Camp starts Monday, July 8th and runs through Thursday, July 11th at the Navajo County Fairgrounds. A whopping 215 campers are scheduled to have a jam-packed week of education revolving around anything livestock show oriented. Campers will learn anything from how to clip their animal properly, what the best nutrition is for their animal, to even learning the tricks of the trade of livestock judging. Following the end of the livestock camp, the Route 66 Classic Jackpot two day show is set to begin on Friday, July 12th. With just under 250 showmen registered to show within those two days, it is promised to be nothing short of a very competitive and outstanding show.
I caught up with two of the camp’s committee members who work year-round to put such a lucrative show together. Steven Lackey and Rusty DeSpain joined forces in 2012 to take an already great livestock camp to an innovative opportunity for livestock enthusiasts that is now almost at its capacity while also adding a special touch of a jackpot show. This is what they had to say about the exciting event they will host.
How did it get started?
The Arizona Livestock Camp started back in 2009 under the guidance of Jimmy Crosby. “With only 10-20 campers at the time and a substantial fee per camper, I saw an opportunity to offer a helping hand the next year in finding sponsors to help cover some of the camp costs” commented Lackey. Each year with the help of more and more sponsors they were able to offer a lower attendance cost with more rewards which led to the influx of campers. “In 2012, Rusty DeSpain and I joined forces to take the camp to the next level. With the help from the newly formed committee and sponsors like Weaver Leather, we were able to host up to 120 campers. In 2016 we took it even further and added the Route 66 Jackpot Show.” It is now one of the biggest and best independent shows in Arizona which includes all four species; cattle, swine, lamb, and goat. “We were able to give camp attendees a total of 62 belt buckles, 68 champion/reserve banners, $5,000 in cash prizes, and over $10,000 in other prizes.”
What makes it special and different from other shows/camps during the year?
Having a committee in place that is comprised of livestock families who put their whole heart and soul into what they do to make this camp and jackpot show one of the best in Arizona. It takes a lot of volunteers and donations from all of the committee members to make this a successful event. Lackey stated, “we are in it for ALL the kids, not just a selected few.”
How far do showmen travel to attend?
“We have families traveling from all over Arizona, California, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada” commented Lackey
What do you hope the showmen walk away with from your event?
“We hope the showmen will walk away from this event with the knowledge to take their show animal to the next level, whether it be at a jackpot or county fair and win the top prize with confidence.”
Lackey and DeSpain would like to give a special thank you to the Arizona Livestock Camp and Route 66 Jackpot Show Committee, all their sponsors along with the City of Holbrook, Navajo County, and the Navajo County Fairgrounds for their support.
“This event would not be possible without their help” said Lackey and DeSpain.
After speaking with Lackey and DeSpain I could not help but be excited for the showmen and for all they will gain from this week-long event. Not only the amazing awards like the buckles and cash prizes but the education and lifelong friends they will most certainly obtain. I am certain this event is sure to be one of the best in the state and will continue to get better every year.
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